Read By Dawn, Volume 1
Edited by Adele Hartley
(Hosted by Ramsey Campbell)
Bloody Books, Hardcover, $16.95
Reviewed by Nickolas Cook

This has been a great year for anthologies. First we get Lee and Wilbanks’ knock out collection, Damned Nation, and then Skipp’s long awaited zombie anthology, Mondo Zombie, and now from Bloody Books we have Read By Dawn.

Put together by Adele Hartley, Director of Dead By Dawn, Scotland’s International Horror Film Festival, the anthology showcases writers from around the world, including Finland, America, Scotland, Canada, and Australia. If there is an international language for horror, this anthology is it. Among the 30 stories within, I consider only a few to fall into the mediocre category, most go straight to my favorite short stories of the year list. If this collection doesn’t sweep the International Horror Guild and the Stokers awards next year, and get some respectable page space in Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, there is no justice.

Some of my particular favorites – I mean the ones that downright made me gasp aloud or shiver while reading them – were “Bloodwalker” by Michelle Lee, an alternative universe tale of practical evil; “The Face in the Glass” by Brian G. Ross; and Rayne Hall’s “The Bridge Chamber” (take that, The Descent). I’d also like to call attention to Samuel Minier’s “Stuck” as a particularly well-written piece, subtle and heart wrenching, even to the bloody end. And I liked the way Lavie Tidhar takes the Alice In Wonderland theme across the world and plops it into war torn Germany in “Eine Kleine Nachmusik (1943)”. But I think if I had to choose a favorite it would be “The Kylesku Trow” by Stefan Pearson; the tale’s last riddle will haunt me for many years to come.

Bloody Books knows how to package. The austere red, white, black and gray cover draws you in, and the font is easy reading despite the size of the slim volume. I have only one complaint with the book’s construction: There are no author names listed with the tales themselves, neither in the Table of Contents nor the traditional top of the page of each story. If one needs to find the author, one must either go back to the first page of the story, or scan the tiny print of the copyright page. But this is such a small thing compared to the fine stories this volume gives us. My hope is that subsequent volumes will fix this issue. But in the professional hands of the editor, I think the next volume will be even more engrossing and bring to light some of the new names in horror. And the U.K.’s most respected living horror author, Ramsey Campbell, must think they’ve got what it takes to become something quite special, as he adds a touching story of his own to the collection and provides a wrap around piece as well. “The Place of Revelations” seems to be his nod to the new voices in the genre and is, as usual, brilliantly written work from a master of the craft.

In the absence of so many beloved ongoing anthology series, this is one to keep your eyes on in the future to give you the well-written, exciting horror fix you need.

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